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Audience Buying: The Shifting Paradigm

Search engine marketing meets the Incredible Hulk.

Online advertising has gotten a steroid shot through the advent of audience buying. Instead of bidding for eyeballs, the new online media paradigm for display advertising creates pinpoint accuracy built on model behaviors that drill down to the nuances of the individual consumer.

Traditional media buys through demand side platforms (DSP) have existed for a decade. But this emerging interface between ad space sales and DSPs is automating media transactions that create buying efficiencies and scalable metrics. Audience buying moves the marketer from purchasing gross blocks of impressions to buying consumer-centric activity.

Marketers now have a Pangaea of data points arranged by demographic, behavioral, intent and other factors. Yahoo, Google Display Network, ValueClic and others are able to supply segmentation beyond collective behavior. Maybe you’re seeking males 25-34 living in Boulder, Colorado, who have recently purchased a home, are interested in home furnishings, visit warehouse furniture sites and could be interested in a bedroom set in the next month. Now you can grab their attention through a sport-related site and a History Channel program based upon recent behavior; you can create your own market segmentation, rather than relying on publishers or media outlets to determine your markets.

Audience buying is predicated on composite behavior rather than specific content. For example, a 40 year-old married man typically has a variety of interests that lead him to access content on disparate sites. Ad exchanges have developed behavioral databases that make targeting audience activity easier and more cost-effective.

 
Micro targeting through audience buying uses critical data that allow marketers to assess viewing behavior across multiple channels. Whether its mobile activity or television viewing, data providers now empower both publishers and media buyers with information that is fresh, scalable, high-quality and transparent. Despite the fact that an audience may have shared traits, each member’s unique interests can be accessed in real time, which allows marketers to speak a common, but variable, “language”.

Though the move to the audience buying paradigm will likely result in higher ad rates, the efficiencies that are being created should lower total campaign expenditures.

Audience buying doesn’t provide any guarantees. Shoppers are finicky, brand disloyal and move swiftly through content. It’s difficult to determine if John Doe is thinking about a luxury sedan while visiting a vacation site; however, the algorithms that are used by ad exchanges have become so complex that even the minutest possibility that a target is considering a specific buy is accounted for within their pricing structures.
Will the new paradigm be successful? Many experts agree that it will. After all, when was the last time you saw car tires, investment opportunities, lawn care services and museum tickets at the same store? Audience buying could bring all of a consumer’s interests into a single space – the online big-box store.

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Adam Vandergang

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